Darryl Wilkinson

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 20, 2014 19 comments
My recent review of GoldenEar Technology’s newest speaker, the Triton One, generated a surprising number of entries in the Comments section at the end of the review. Some were short and to the point, such as the one from the reader who declared he or she “will not be renewing my subscription” because the piece was “a waste of a review.” (Okay, if you’ve got a beef with something I wrote, so be it. But don’t tar and feather Rob, Tom, Mark, and the rest of the S&V crew for a piece with my byline. Surely you ought to be able to find a subscription’s worth of value in the stuff they write.) But other comments were more substantive and warranted a more in-depth response than posting a brief reply...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 10, 2014 37 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,000/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Three forward-firing active woofers with four side-firing passive radiators and a 1,600-watt amp
Remarkably open, balanced sound quality
Extremely dynamic
Minus
They’re really, really heavy

THE VERDICT
GoldenEar Technology’s Triton One is Sandy Gross’ magnum opus and provides an astounding performance-versus-price ratio.

It’s not an overstatement to say that Sandy Gross is a legend—a double legend, as a matter of fact, since he’s in two entirely different industries’ Halls of Fame. In high school, Gross was an award-winning racecar designer. With his best friend, Howie Ursaner, the Gold Dust Twins (as they were called) were a professional racing team that competed around the country. (At one point, Ursaner won a Corvette. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to legally drive it—because he was only 14 years old.) That was during the late 1960s and early ’70s, a time generally considered to be the Golden Age of Racing—slot car racing, that is.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 30, 2014 2 comments
I’m in the interesting position of telling you how to do something with a subwoofer that you shouldn’t do. No, it’s not illegal. But in the ears of those for whom sound quality is more important than ergonomics, décor, and/or domestic tranquility, it’s definitely heretical.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 23, 2014 Published: May 22, 2014 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,396 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Support for multiple high-rez codecs
No computer needed
Up to 32 players
$449 system entry price
Minus
No AirPlay support
Limited access to some popular streaming Internet services

THE VERDICT
Bluesound’s audio system takes the pain out of being an audiophile in a streaming digital music era.

Bluesound, as I found out, has nothing to do with the mythical brown note. (Go Google it.) Instead, this is how John Banks, Bluesound’s chief brand officer, described to me the who, what, and why of the new company—a splinter of the Lenbrook family responsible for the NAD and PSB brands—and its high-resolution, 24-bit native, pure-digital streaming music system: “Bluesound is an exciting alliance of audiophiles. We are designers, engineers, and passionate music lovers who have spent our lives in the audio industry. NAD and PSB, who you know well, pioneered hi-fi in the ’70s; clearly, innovation and the pursuit of perfection in audio runs deep in our collective DNA.”

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 20, 2014 2 comments
When you're as interested in AV and home entertainment as the writers and readers of S&V are, it's easy to fall into the trap of taking things—especially yourself—a little too seriously. Of course, chasing perfection is a laudable endeavor, but it's not always so when that pursuit comes at the expense of the basic fun and enjoyment the gear and technology are supposed to bring into our lives. I know that this might sound like heresy, but sometimes a low-tech solution can work just as well a more "advanced" one…
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 07, 2014 2 comments
For three short days in April, I had one pair each of new flagship speakers from two of the hottest companies in the audio business today: Definitive Technology and GoldenEar Technology. Both models are so new that, in the case of Def Tech, the Mythos ST-L SuperTower is on very tight allocation to dealers. The new Triton One Tower speakers aren’t even listed yet on GoldenEar Technology’s website. (As of right now, anyway.) Both models are $5,000/pair, which means that, if you’re interested in high-performance audio and can afford to indulge your passion for music (and home theater), chances are only one pair of these two speakers will find its way into your home. So the inevitable question is going to be: Which one is the better speaker?
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Apr 07, 2014 0 comments
I spent a tense 30 minutes the other night huddled on the floor in the hallway outside my father’s hospital room. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for the area, and the hospital had gone into “Weather Plan 2” mode. Everyone in the building—even the patients who couldn’t get out of bed—had to gather in the hallways. My father was one of those temporarily bed-ridden patients, and I’m sure that the mind-twisting aftereffects of anesthesia coupled with post-op morphine made the hurried, bumpy rush from his room to a hall full of two dozen other patients seem even more surreal than it was for me. It became even more surreal after all the patients were returned to their rooms following an “all clear” announcement when, within minutes, the whole process was repeated (albeit with significantly more grumbling from the patients and staff.)

As I was busily texting and tweeting about the collective predicament we were in (it’s actually not true that I caused a small riot when I ran through the hallway yelling “Morphine for all!”), the flickering of the hallway lights during the height of the storm started me thinking about how incredibly dependent we are on technology - technology that most of us take totally for granted until it doesn’t work anymore...

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 27, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,547

AT A GLANCE
Plus
A 55-inch horizontal soundbar that can be installed without modifying the wall studs
Can learn volume and mute IR codes from your TV’s remote
Excellent simulated
surround and music
processing
Minus
Really needs a subwoofer
Only one HDMI input

THE VERDICT
The Niles CSF55A is more expensive than a similarly performing active soundbar, but it’s well worth it for the person who wants the gear to disappear without giving up any sound quality.

It’s either the craziest flippin’ idea ever, or it’s absolutely brilliant. I mean, in-wall speakers are one thing. Soundbars, though, especially active soundbars, are completely different creatures. But somebody at Niles—whether inspired by an offhanded joke, an improbable Frankenstein-like engineering experiment, or an alcohol-infused haze after a tedious sales meeting—decided that what the world needs is an active, in-wall soundbar system to complement wall-mounted flat-panel TVs.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 25, 2014 0 comments
Even the best smart homes today aren’t much more than a cool collection of dumb gadgets managed by a controller with a good memory. Few, if any, of them aren’t intelligent enough yet to figure out when to do tasks on their own. Programming what actions should happen when and under what varying conditions or triggers is a large part of why home automation has been confined to the posh multi-thousand square foot homes of the rich and powerful or the often not-so-posh and much smaller homes of the electronic tinkerers and makers. (Of course, the cost of controllers, sensors, devices, and installation doesn’t help put home automation in the “mass market” category yet, either.)

Despite its relatively high price ($250 - or $3.2 billion, if you’re Google), the Nest thermostat is very popular (I saw one on the wall in a local Subway restaurant a couple of days ago) because - in addition to its Applish-elegance design - it “programs itself so you don’t have to.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it turns out that there are a lot of people out there who absolutely hate programming a thermostat; and hate it enough, apparently, that they’re willing to spend four-to-five times more $ on a “learning thermostat” than they would on an average 5-2 day programmable thermostat. So any smart home automation company looking to break into the big time needs to take note of this fact. Does anyone really believe that these same folks want to spend the time and effort to program an entire home of automated gadgets? “It programs itself so you don’t have to” needs to be the smart home mantra.

Recently a couple of smart home systems caught my attention because of their learning capabilities...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 18, 2014 0 comments
I’m on a quest to find the best of the affordable smart home automation systems that are available (or will be shortly). The first couple of review samples have come in, and one of the primary aspects these two systems have in common is the impressive amount of engineering and design effort put into making installation and set up as easy as possible. That’s vitally important because for home automation to really get its foot in the door (so to speak) and appeal to more than just gadget-freaks like me, the system controllers need to be smart enough that the end user doesn’t have to commit an overwhelming amount of brainpower to the process of setting them up and getting them running. If the initial installation of a smart home automation controller is anything close to the pain involved in creating a bunch of macros in a programmable universal remote control, there’s going to be a lot of product returns from unhappy customers.

The first system to arrive was...

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